The Writings of Americus Vespucius
This engraving illustrates a humerous incident described in the writings of Americus Vespucius, on his first voyage to the New World in 1497 and illustrates his observation that at a time when most europeans did not swim, the Natives, both men and women, were great swimmers. When sailing into the harbor, "so many came swimming that we were inclined to stop such a crowd from being on board, more than a thousand souls, all naked and without arms. They wondered at our arrangements and contrivances, and at the size of the ships. There happened a laughable thing, which was that we had occasion to fire off some of our artillery, and when the report was heard, the greater part of the natives on board jumped overboard from fear, and began to swim, like the frogs on the banks, which, when they are frightened, jump into the swamp."